Most people who are arrested or accused of a crime are most focused on averting the short-term penalties like jail sentences and costly fines. However, there are also collateral consequences that come with a conviction or even a dismissal, including a criminal record that could haunt you on background checks for years to come. Furthermore, if you are convicted of a felony, or of certain misdemeanors, you will lose the right to purchase or own a firearm in the state of Maryland. For misdemeanor convictions, however, you may be able to regain these rights if you go through the expungement process to have the conviction removed from your record. Below, our experienced Maryland expungement attorneys at the Law Offices of Randolph Rice explain when expunging you record can restore your gun rights, and how we can assist you with this process.
In Maryland, those who have been convicted of a “disqualifying crime” may not possess, or purchase, a statutorily defined “regulated firearm.” “Disqualifying crimes” include violent crimes, felonies, and misdemeanors with statutory penalties of more than two years of prison time. In order for the latter to apply, you do not have to actually be sentenced to a penalty of two or more years in jail so long as the statute would have allowed the judge to sentence you to two or more years. Possession of a firearm by someone who has been convicted of a crime that prohibits them from owing one is a serious felony in and of itself, punishable by a maximum penalty of 15 years and, in most cases, a minimum mandatory of 5 years. If you are unsure whether your criminal conviction means you can no longer purchase or possess firearms, contact a skilled criminal defense attorney like those at the Law Offices of Randolph Rice who can assess the particulars of your case and advise you on your current rights with respect to gun purchase, ownership, and possession.
Not all criminal convictions are eligible for expungement. The most serious, violent felonies like murder and rape, for example, can never be expunged from your record. However, Maryland does allow expungement for a wide range of misdemeanor convictions and even some lesser felony convictions. An expungement of a misdemeanor conviction will allow you to purchase and own guns again in most cases. If you have been convicted of a felony, however, your gun rights can only be restored by a pardon, not an expungement.
A pardon is ultimately granted by the governor, but the governor usually follows the recommendations of the Maryland Parole Commission. For felony convictions, you typically must wait 10 years after the completion of your sentence, including any probation or parole, without getting into further trouble with the law in order to be eligible to apply for a pardon, although the Parole Commission can grant a waiver and allow you file after 7 years in some cases. If you have a felony conviction and want to get your gun rights restored, reach out to our experienced Maryland pardon attorneys at the Law Offices of Randolph Rice so that we can assess the possibility of a pardon in your case. If a pardon is granted, and you have no other disqualifying offenses on your record, you will be able to purchase and possess firearms again.
On the other hand, with regard to misdemeanors that lead to lost gun rights, the state does allow restoration of these rights if the matter is expunged from your record. For most eligible misdemeanors, you are able to get them expunged 10 years after the completion of your sentence, so long as you have stayed out of trouble with the law since then. However, for some misdemeanors, including those under Criminal Law Article § 3-203, common law battery, or an offense classified as a domestically related crime under Criminal Procedure Article § 6-233, you will have to wait 15 years from the completion of your sentence. If the petition for expungement is granted, and you have no other disqualifying offenses, your gun rights will be restored.
When you reach out to our veteran Maryland expungement attorneys about the possibility of getting a misdemeanor conviction or multiple misdemeanor convictions expunged from your criminal record so that you can own and purchase guns again, the first thing we will do is assist you in obtaining an official copy of your Maryland criminal history. This is important because sometimes folks can misremember the details of the dispositions or even forget about old charges entirely, and we need to be sure we have the most accurate information in front of us so we can properly advise you about what charges are eligible for expungement and whether the expungement will result in the restoration of your gun rights.
Once we have assessed your record and determined which of your arrests, convictions, and dispositions are eligible to be expunged, we can help prepare and file the necessary petitions with the court. Unfortunately, if you have multiple eligible offenses, you cannot file a single petition for all of them but rather must file an individual petition for each offense. If the prosecutor or courts file any unexpected objections to the petitions, we will argue that they should be overruled and will appear at a court hearing to do so if needed. If the petitions are granted with respect to the misdemeanor convictions that are preventing you from owning or purchasing a gun, and you have no other disqualifying felony convictions on your record, your gun rights will be restored.
Expunging misdemeanor convictions that have caused the loss of your gun rights can lead to the restoration of those rights. However, expunging felony convictions will not result in the restoration of your gun rights. In order to do so, you will have to get a pardon. In either instance, reach out to our veteran Maryland expungement lawyers at the Law Offices of Randolph Rice, who can advise on the steps you need to take in order to get the process started. For a free consultation, call our firm today at (410) 826-5656.